This Federal Budget looks like another case of marketing, mismanagement and missed opportunities when it comes to Veterans’ Affairs under this Liberal-National government.
For eight long years, this government has presided over a crisis in veteran mental health and suicide, and a chronically under-resourced Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) that is failing veterans and their families in Blair.
Federal Member for Blair and Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Shayne Neumann said the Budget was an attempt by the Morrison Government to play catch-up and provide band-aid solutions to problems it has created, rather than deliver much-needed reforms to veteran services.
“Funding for a Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicide is critical, but the reality is the Morrison Government was dragged kicking and screaming to this after Labor first called for it in 2019,” he said.
“Additional funding and staffing for DVA to support claims processing is a clear admission of failure, given wait times and a backlog of veteran compensation claims have blown out in recent years.
“Unfortunately, the Government has failed to abolish its staffing cap for the public service, which means DVA will continue to rely on labour hire workers to deal with the huge spike in claims.
“The 2021-22 Budget includes funding for a new Veteran Wellbeing Centre in South-East Queensland, so I am calling on the Government to finally honour their 2016 election commitment and deliver this in Ipswich.”
“Despite loud calls from Labor and the ex-service community, there is no funding in this year’s budget to address the terrible plight of homeless veterans, when we know homelessness is a significant factor in veteran suicides.
“Finally, the Government has brought forward the payment of rent assistance for Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) pensioners in this budget from September 2022 to January 2022 following its flawed review of the TPI payment.
“This is just window-dressing given many local disabled veterans are disgusted that most of them will miss out on this assistance, and this is something Labor has sought to examine by establishing an independent Senate inquiry into the adequacy of the TPI pension,” Mr Neumann said.
Mr Neumann said this budget reflected that when it came to supporting veterans and families, it had been Labor that had led the way in so many areas while the Government had followed.
“Veterans in Ipswich, the Somerset Region and Karana Downs region have endured eight long years of inaction and neglect, and this budget does nothing to change that. It’s just more of the same from a tired old government,” he said.